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Laps, Leaders, & Lessons

“Leaders instill in their people a hope for success and a belief in themselves. Positive leaders empower people to accomplish their goals.”


What are the characteristics of a great leader? The quote above is a great start in developing a definition, and my recent post titled Layups, Loops, and Leaders touched on the subject, but what if I told you that I can show you a “How-to” video highlighting four important traits of a great leader in action? Would you be surprised that it is less than 60 seconds long and the subject of the case study is running laps? Before reading on, take a minute to watch the end of the Women’s 5000 Meter Final from the 2019 Big Ten Championships.

What can we learn from watching the video? I identified 4 lessons that Alicia Monson demonstrates in less than a minute.

  1. Leaders work from the front – Leaders both provide direction and set the pace. In the race, Alicia wasn’t pushing her teammate from behind…she was pulling from in front.

  2. Leaders never leave their team behind – Success can often be attained by yourself, but true leaders make sure everyone is along for the ride. Alicia was not only worried about winning, but about ensuring success for her teammate.

  3. Leaders know when and how to inspire action – Successful communication relies on both the timing and tone of the message. Make the mistake of too soon, too late, too often, too loud, not loud enough or too confusing (among others) and the message is ineffective at best or demotivating at worst. Alicia knew both when and how to inspire action. Inspiration can be as simple and effective as Alicia was when she shouted; “GO NOW AMY!”

  4. Leaders praise and recognize others – Celebrating success is fun, but great leaders celebrate the success of others. Alicia just won a Big Ten Conference Title yet seemed happier for her teammate than herself at the finish line. If that wasn’t enough, check out what she had to say later about the race, continuing to deflect praise to her teammate.

“The 5k at Big Tens last week is one of those races that I will remember for a long time. Going 1-2 is something Amy and I have always talked about, so I was happy to have the opportunity to help make that happen…I was proud of the way Amy raced and it was great for us to get a Big Ten title together.

When Simon Sinek wrote Leaders Eat Last, he might as well have been writing the blueprint for Alicia’s form of leadership. Humble, Timely, Sacrificial, and Servant minded; these tenants of leadership can inspire those around you to dream, perform, and develop beyond expectations. Perhaps your leadership will inspire and create leaders from your own tribe; people who will be the catalyst for a tidal wave of positive change. At the end of the race, wouldn’t it be amazing to see those you have influenced achieve new heights?


Jason Boaz, PGA

PGA Certified Golf Professional

PGA Career Consultant

Illinois and Wisconsin Sections of the PGA of America


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